Donated glass gives charities a boost

Some large ornate panels of stained glass have made their way to the Community Treasures Thrift Store in Gibsons with 40 per cent of the profit from each piece sold going to support programs run by Sunshine Coast Community Services.

"There are windows that are valued anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 each and they're over 100 years old. They have jewels in them and they're painted and fired," said Cathleen Clarke, who donated the pieces from her mother's estate. "They're very old church windows that are actually worth a lot. Even at $5,000 it's a steal."

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The large ornate windows represent a sliver of the donated stained glass and pottery Clarke has given to local charities on behalf of her mother, Brigid Clarke, who passed away at age 88 in September.

Brigid owned Tiffany Glass Centre Ltd. in Richmond, a business she started in 1970. She had no particular reason for getting into the stained glass business, except that she loved the look of it.

"My mom was just super passionate about stained glass," Clarke said. "We lived in Kitsilano and I always remember the day she came home and she just said, 'I bought this little stained glass company up on 10th and Alma' and I remember saying to her, 'but Mom you don't know anything about stained glass,' and she said, 'yeah, but we have it in the hallway and it's gorgeous. Isn't it beautiful?' I always remembered that," Clarke said.

Her mother's love of the art form would drive her business for decades until she decided to move to the Coast with her husband in 2008. She closed down the business in Richmond, planning to re-open on the Sunshine Coast.

She moved her inventory with her, filling 11 storage lockers in Gibsons to the brim with stained glass pieces and a warehouse of pottery she purchased when another business was closing its doors.

Her husband's health took a turn for the worse and Brigid was never able to open her Sunshine Coast store.

"After she passed away I weighed the pros and cons of opening the store on the Coast but I don't have the same passion she did so I just decided to give a lot of it away. I think that would have made Mom happy," Clarke said.

She gave away hundreds of pieces to local charities like Habitat for Humanity and the Community Treasures Thrift Shop, which funds much of the work done by Sunshine Coast Community Services.

The majority of the pieces were given outright but the large church windows are being sold on consignment at the thrift store, with 40 per cent going to community services.

Lee Mason, co-manager of Community Treasures Thrift Store, said a multitude of stained glass lamps and pottery has already sold at the store and the final large pieces are being posted on Internet sites to try to attract buyers from off-Coast.

"We're just trying to garner some publicity. This kind of thing needs the right person and the right house, or the right religious organization that wants to purchase them," Mason said.

She said donations like Clarke's make it easier for Sunshine Coast Community Services to fund the various programs they provide.

"It's been such a boost for us because we operate things like the food bank and the transition house, and at this time of year the extra money has been amazing," Mason said. "We're always really grateful for donations from estates and from people."

If you would like to arrange a viewing of the large stained glass windows, you can contact the thrift store at 604-886-2811.

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